Gothika (2003)

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Released 13-Sep-2004

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio & Animation
Dolby Digital Trailer
Audio Commentary-Director And DP
Featurette-On The Set Of Gothika
Featurette-Painting With Fire
Featurette-Making Of The Music Video
Featurette-Patients: Interviews, Drawings, Doctor's Notes
Music Video-Behind Blue Eyes By Limp Bizkit
Theatrical Trailer
Trailer-Spider-Man 2, Hellboy, Secret Window, Big Fish, The Missing
Trailer-Identity, Panic Room, Thir13en Ghosts
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2003
Running Time 94:07 (Case: 98)
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Mathieu Kassovitz
Studio
Distributor

Sony Pictures Home Entertain
Starring Halle Berry
Robert Downey, Jr.
Charles Dutton
John Carroll Lynch
Bernard Hill
Penélope Cruz
Dorian Harewood
Bronwen Mantel
Kathleen Mackey
Matthew G. Taylor
Michel Perron
Andrea Sheldon
Anana Rydvald
Case ?
RPI $39.95 Music John Ottman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
Italian Dolby Digital 5.1 (448Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
Italian
Greek
Italian Audio Commentary
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    A psychiatrist, Dr Miranda Grey (played by Halle Berry), works in a a somewhat 'gothic' looking psychiatric institution, run by her husband, Dr Douglas Grey, played by Charles Dutton.  One stormy night she leaves for home after work when she is forced to take a detour via a deserted road where she nearly runs into a girl standing in the middle of the road. Dr Grey swerves to avoid her, and instead crashes into a tree. She appears okay but rushes to check on the girl, who then self immolates in front of her eyes.

    Dr Grey then wakes up to find herself as a patient in her very own hospital. She's been accused of murdering her husband,  but cannot recall the events leading up to her institutionalisation. The story then focuses on her struggle to regain her memories, prove her sanity, and escape from this institution.

    Director Mathieu Kassovitz (Crimson Rivers) adopts a high-tech look for the whole film, with some shots occasionally looking too much like music video footage. However, overall he does deliver a fairly stylish film with perhaps more emphasis on the thriller aspect rather than horror, though this film very much follows a supernatural storyline. Unfortunately many of the film's 'moments' are telegraphed to the viewer either through the dialogue or lead up sequences.

    However, the film is lent some weight by some good performances, especially from Halle and a smaller role from Penelope Cruz as a fellow patient, though this is very much a vehicle for Berry.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The video transfer is very sharp, as one would expect from such a recent theatrical release. It is presented in its original ratio of 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced.

    Shadow detail is great, which is just as well as much of this film takes place in darkness or near-darkness. There is no evidence of film grain nor of any low-level noise.

    There is a slight overall bluish tinge to the colour palette in this film. This was probably the desire of cinematographer Matthew Libatique (Phone Booth), to portray a cold, high-tech facility. The colour is rich at all times without ever being oversaturated or exhibiting any colour bleed.

    There are no visible MPEG artefacts, nor any transfer artefacts. There are also no visible film artefacts (positive or negative), which is not surprising given that it's a very recent film.

    Subtitles are available in English, Greek and Italian. They are all well-timed to the on-screen dialogue. The English subtitles are accurate to the spoken word. I wasn't able to translate enough of the Italian or Greek subtitles to make any observation on their accuracy.

    The layer change occurs at 53:44 and is well placed at the end of a scene.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    We're presented here with a superb Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack, available in English and Italian.

    Dialogue is clear and in sync with the actor's lip movements at all times. Even the Italian dubbing is done very well so as to fairly closely match the actor's lips.

    The music, by John Ottman (X Men 2, Lake Placid), is suitably scary and tension building throughout. There is plenty of use of deep sound effects and discordant notes and sounds to add to the viewer's unease.

    The surround channels are used wonderfully throughout the film right from the beginning. Examples include the thunder at 10:00 which sounds like it is directly overhead, as well as frequent front to rear panning such as at 40:05.

    The subwoofer is used very well to support both effects as well as music. There's an example of very deep bass at 10:26.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu Audio

    The menu is presented in 1.85:1 and is 16x9 enhanced. It shows an animated loop of footage and music from the film.

Dolby Digital Trailer

    There is a Dolby Digital trailer, this time the nice and gentle 'Ribbon' version.

Audio Commentary

    The audio commentary on this disc is provided by the Director, Mathieu Kassovitz, and Director of Photography (cinematographer) Matthew Libatique. This commentary is fairly detailed and covers much about the making of the film, as well as some background information on the cast and crew and locations. There is much mutual admiration on display but overall it is good to listen to. There are a number of gaps in the commentary, during which time you can hear the original soundtrack. One thing I found out was that Graham 'Grace' Walker, the set designer, is an Aussie!

Featurette - 'On the Set of Gothika':   (runtime 16:09).

    This is primarily a collection of snippets from interviews with the Director, Producer, cast members talking about how great the film is and how the script focuses on characters rather than CGI or other effects. There is a little bit of behind-the-scenes footage. This featurette is presented in fullscreen with movie clips in 1.85:1 letterboxed.

Featurette - 'Painting with Fire' (runtime: 7:05).

    An interesting featurette focusing on the visual effects used in the film. It was fascinating to see just how well incorporated the CGI was in this film, even in many shots where the viewer wouldn't suspect it. This featurette is presented in fullscreen with movie clips in 1.85:1 letterboxed.

Featurette - 'Making of the Music Video' (runtime 19:18).

    This is way over-the-top! I can't believe 19 minutes were spent on this relatively trivial aspect of the entire film, when the other 2 documentaries are shorter. I found it a complete waste of time watching the lead singer from Limp Bizkit go on about how much the song "Behind Blue Eyes" meant to him. Admittedly it's a good cover of The Who's original song, but including just the music video clip would have been enough. As it is we get the video twice, once as part of this featurette, and as a separate extra. At least one gets to see Halle looking her glamorous and gorgeous best, unlike in many scenes in the actual film!

Featurette - 'Patients: Interviews, Drawings, Doctor's Notes'.

    A collection of interviews with three supposed patients in the same hospital. A rather interesting and detailed inclusion that helps 'extend' the film. It also shows drawings done by each of these three patients, as well as recorded notes from the consulting doctor.

Music Video

    The video clip of Limp Bizkit's song from this film. Presented in 2.35:1 letterbox.

Theatrical Trailer

    The original trailer for Gothika presented in 1.85:1 16x9 enhanced.

Movie Trailers

    Trailers for Spiderman 2, Hellboy, Secret Window, Big Fish, The Missing, Identity, Panic Room, Thirteen Ghosts. All but one are nicely presented in Dolby Digital 5.1 and 16x9 enhanced.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This film is available in R1 in the following versions:

    - Full screen (pan & scan) with similar extras to this R4 release

    - widescreen version with similar extras to this R4 release

    - 2 disk Special Edition which contains all the extras on the current R4 release, plus an additional 4 minute MTV special about the theatrical opening of the film. I could not confirm whether there were further extras.

    If one can live without the 4 minute MTV documentary then the R4 release is the best.

Summary

    Somehow director Kassovitz has managed to make two of Hollywood's most beautiful women look, well, somewhat less than attractive (at times)...especially Penelope Cruz!

    This film does have quite a bit of clichéd dialogue, but it also has some good harrowed acting by Halle and Penelope. Robert Downey Jr's somewhat lame performance does negate their effects somewhat.

    It's a great looking and sounding film with a reasonably original story, though the actual setting has that somewhat cliched typical stormy, dark, isolated setting in the woods. It wasn't that effective as a 'scary' film as there really weren't many scenes that would make you feel creepy the way films like The Others or The Sixth Sense do, but it still has some good moments of tension and is enjoyable enough, if one doesn't set one's expectations too high.

    The extras are quite comprehensive, especially considering this is a single disc release.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Satish Rajah (don't read my bio!)
Friday, October 01, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-344 Multi-Region, using Component output
DisplaySony KV-XA34M31 80cm. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationDenon AVR-2801
SpeakersMain: Mission 753; Centre: Mission m7c2; rear: Mission 77DS; Sub: JBL PB10

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